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Fear and deference of prisoners toward their captors (conditioned through outright violent terror) replicates almost exactly that of Blacks towards whites under the chattel slavery and Jim Crow systems of the Old South. The absolute power of prison officials is no less extreme. And they exercise that power just as arbitrarily. But oppression breeds resistance and a movement is underway where prisoners across the U.S. are staging a range of protests in opposition to slave labor and inhumane treatment in U.S. prisons.
Across Amerika, home of the world’s largest prison population, growing numbers of the imprisoned are coming to realize that they are victims of social injustice. Foremost, they are victims of an inherently predatory and dysfunctional capitalist-imperialist system, which targets the poor and people of color for intensified policing, militaristic containment and selective criminal prosecutions, while denying them access to the basic resources, employment and institutional control needed for social and economic security.
On April 22, 2018, over 200 people attended the UCSC opening of the Reel Work May Day Labor Film Festival (RWLFF)’s 17th season, with the event theme “Together to End Solitary.” RWLFF’s motto, “We are stronger together,” is particularly poignant when coming together to end the extreme isolation of the state-sanctioned torture of solitary confinement. The film, “Cruel and Unusual, the Story of the Angola 3,” details the Angola 3's decades-long struggle for justice and to build an international movement to end solitary confinement.
I started writing this series and planning this Campaign to Redistribute the Pain with the intention of getting everyone’s understanding up on the importance and power of economics to our struggle. We can’t march and protest our way to freedom. Instead, we have to bankrupt the corporate enterprise that was created by the 13th Amendment. I don’t make this statement lightly: The approximately 3 million people in U.S. prisons are or represent the most powerful group of labor in this country.
To punish Rashid for writing this, retaliatory guards massively gassed him while handcuffed, plus his bedding and cell walls and refuse to decontaminate; sign the RootsAction petition now (link inside)! Within a year, three federal lawsuits have been brought behind the tortured deaths of men imprisoned at the William P. Clements Unit in remote Amarillo, Texas. The latest suit was filed against 33 security and medical staff, concerning their roles in the Jan. 19, 2016, death of Alton Rodgers.
If we look to any uprising in world history we will see that such rebellions, although they may have included various nationalities, are usually attributed to the dominant force in that rebellion. Rebellions take on the oppression, and those who arise lend their voice in the struggle. The dominant force in an event shapes the event and shapes the character of the struggle. The same can be said of prison struggles.
On Oct. 7, political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim was denied four books which arrived for him at Attica Correctional Facility. Muntaqim is a former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army and one of the longest held political prisoners in the world today; he has been incarcerated since 1971, when he was only 19 years old. Muntaqim was initially told he could have the books, but when a guard noticed that one of the titles in question was actually written by Muntaqim himself, he simply said, “No way.” This censorship is simply a more petty example of harassment directed against someone who is hated for what he represents.
Departments of corrections and state legislatures are putting into place chilling bans on free speech and expression by prisoners, formerly incarcerated persons, family members, friends, journalists, advocates and activists. Pack the courtroom for the hearing on Abu-Jamal v. Kane, challenging Prisoner Gag Law SB 508, on Thursday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., in U.S. Courthouse, 228 Walnut St., Courtroom 2, Harrisburg, Penn.
I snapped to the fact that once we successfully exposed this torture program to the world, making the people aware, at least some of the responsibility shifts to the people to hold the lawmakers responsible. It’s unbelievable to me to see the numbers of people out there who are aware of the continued torture we are subjected to, and yet they’ve failed to take any action to hold those responsible accountable.
Public broadcast stations KQED and KTMP are just two stations multi-casting from Sutro Tower that are currently being blocked or restricted by the SQ administration under the guise of technical difficulties. But it is actually intentional and because these provide programs such as world news and Democracy Now, even documentaries denouncing the horrific practice of long-term torture by solitary confinement in California prisons.
Hundreds of Siddiqui’s supporters met the two at the airport in the wee hours of the morning, carrying flowers, signs and banners, and chanting “Free Aafia!” and “Welcome!” Siddiqui is a Pakistani political prisoner who has been held in solitary confinement for years in U.S. prisons, after being abducted from Pakistan with her three young children.
Many discussions are taking place on the nature of the indefinite solitary confinement program in the U.S. prisons and whether or not it constitutes torture. The debate on what to do about the program itself is being held at every level of social organization, from the U.S. Senate to the United Nations, from the California Legislature to the short corridors of Pelican Bay and Corcoran SHUs.
This year marks the 33rd anniversary of Black August, the annual commemoration of the liberation struggle of African people inside the United States. The month of celebration and reflection was initiated by political prisoners, many of whom were members of the Black Panther Party and the Republic of New Africa, two of the main revolutionary organizations that emerged during the late 1960s.
“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference Friday afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas.
Prisoners in the Security Housing Units, SHUs, at Pelican Bay and Corcoran state prisons in California are beginning an indefinite hunger strike on July 1, 2011, to protest the cruel and inhumane conditions of their imprisonment in what is being called “an unusual show of racial unity.” Breaking news: Prisoners at Centinela have joined the hunger strike. A prisoner there reports: “Only a few inmates are walking the yard. No Blacks or Hispanics have left their cells. No one has gone to work. He said all the races are united in this fight.”